Thursday, June 2, 2011

You Have Your Elevator Pitches, Now What?

I love this time of the year on all of the loops. Everyone is busy prepping those "elevator pitches." You know what I'm talking about and you know who you are. These are those brief pitches you plan on giving to every agent and editor you find in the hallway and meet in the elevator.

But why do I laugh? Because the majority of you writers out there, who have spent countless hours writing and memorizing the darn things, and who have likely spent chapter meetings in practice sessions will end up "chickening out" in the end.

You will say:
  • It wasn't the right time.
  • The editor/agent was just heading to a meeting.
  • I had to go to the bathroom.
  • The sun was shining.
Oh, you know who you are.

But let's talk about these for a second. There are actually two things I want to talk about today when it comes to the elevator pitches.

First of all, if your gut is making excuses as to why you won't "pitch on the fly" it's probably telling you that right now is not the time for you to make the jump to professional writing. I don't care how long you have been writing or how many manuscripts you have finished, your brain has to be in the game. This has to be right for you and I applaud you for not doing it.

Now, let's assume you are ready. There are countless opportunities for a writer to talk to editors and agents at a national conference. Take advantage of it. You don't have to start with a pitch but talk about the business. Show your interest. Show you know what is going on. The odds are the conversation will turn to around to a chance for you to talk about your story. Who knows. This might be the chance you need and want.

Although writing a story is a solitary business, writing, in general is not. You have to be able to talk to people and discuss the things you have in common. You have to be agressive and skip the wall-flower bit you have been using for so long.

There are a few rules though:
  • If we are heading to the bathroom, no pitches.
  • If you see we are seriously heading some place, no pitches.
  • If an editor says they will not take unagented submissions, don't pitch.
  • If you have an agent, talk to him or her first before heading out on your own.

Now for my annual challenge. I go to conference to talk to people. I go to conferences to meet writers and hear stories. If you see me out and about, come over and talk. I dare you to pitch to me.

And again, for those of you who have writing chapters meeting at nationals, I will visit and I will listen to what you have to say.

So, are you up to the challenge?



  1. I've approached Scott at nationals in the past and he's been delightfully accommodating. Even if you don't have anything ready but just have a question about him or about the industry, go ask. He's the best at making you feel you are on the right path. And as a bonus, a darn nice guy.

  2. Glad to know, Leslie. I will be pitching to Scott at the HNS Conference. On elevator pitches, however, the "head can be in the game," the heart filled with daring, and the tongue fail you miserably. I suffer from what I call Joseph Conrad syndrome.

  3. Scott, you don't rep my genre, but I promise if I meet you at conference, I will introduce myself :)

  4. Awesome post, Scott.

    I accept your challenge - see you in San Diego.

  5. Thank you so much for the advice! I also have a pitch session scheduled with you in San Diego - my first opportunity to pitch to anyone ever - and I'm pretty nervous. It makes me feel better to know you're a darn nice guy.

    See you then!

  6. I've also got a pitch appointment with you next weekend. Looking forward to it! I'm chuckling at the image of an author trying to pitch you on the way to the restroom.